The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has resorted to escorting fuel trucks in transit from the Forbes Border post to Plumtree and Chirundu Border Posts after it recently came to light that fuel trucks purporting to be in transit are in fact offloading the fuel in Zimbabwe, prejudicing the State of millions of dollars in excise duty.
Post Business came across a ZIMRA escorted convoy of 10 fuel trucks in transit to Botswana along the Mutare-Plumtree via Harare highway. ZIMRA officers were escorting the trucks from Forbes Border post before handing them over to their Harare counterparts just outside Marondera.
The Harare ZIMRA officers were expected to hand over the trucks to a Bulawayo team in Gweru. This new exercise ensures that no fuel is emptied in Zimbabwe.
“We have decided to escort the fuel trucks in transit to countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and Zambia after losing a lot of money.
“Since we started this exercise, our revenues have improved significantly,” said a ZIMRA officer who declined to be named.
Investigations by Post Business show that ZIMRA was charging excise duty of around US$19 500 from one truck with a trailer carrying 60 000 litres of petrol.
It therefore means that if the Botswana bound 10 trucks were to offload their 600 000 litres in Zimbabwe without paying duty, ZIMRA would lose US$195 000, hence the tight checks and balances to ensure that nothing would be lost.
Recently, some fuel truck drivers purportedly in transit to the DRC, tampered with the ZIMRA seals, emptied the fuel in Zimbabwe and replaced it with water before proceeding to Chirundu where they were intercepted by the police and ZIMRA after detecting a suspicious detour using its newly installed electronic cargo tracking system.
When ZIMRA conducted a physical search on the trucks together with other stakeholders, it was discovered that the sealing slips had been tampered with and the liquid in the trucks was taken for tests at the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority.
The trucks were allegedly found carrying 140 000 litres of water instead of diesel amid suspicion they had offloaded the fuel in Chitungwiza.
ZIMRA had not charged excise duty for the fuel at Forbes Border Post after being duped the cargo was destined for the DRC. This prejudiced the State of $55 650.
ZIMRA board chairperson Mrs Willia Bonyongwe said evasion was one of the major problems facing the revenue collector.
“It is so sad what we are doing to our country when you look at our roads and hospitals. I believe without evasion, we could collect enough for all our recurrent and most of our capital expenditure as a nation,” she said.
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